Union sees payback in privatisation

THE union representing the City of Fremantle’s depot workers has linked a recent bitter industrial dispute to the council’s decision to fully privatise its graffiti, carpentry and painting services, which cost two of its delegates their jobs.

CFMEU assistant secretary Brad Upton told the Herald while the council had cited reduced costs for the decision, the union members “felt it was coming anyway” because of the protracted industrial dispute, which centred on a clause in their work contracts allowing the council to stand them down without pay during tough times.

Mr Upton said the three workers affected by the privatisation had more than 70 years’ experience between them.

He says another reason given to his members was an expectation the city’s maintenance costs would be reduced because it had a new civic centre, but that came while there was an obvious backlog across the city.

“How are they going to be able to find someone cheaper when things are like they are at the moment and tradies are either not available or cost an arm and a leg,” Mr Upton said.

“The city don’t pay high enough for that.”

Accountability

CFMEU organiser Michelle Sheehy address the council during public question time at last week’s meeting, criticising the decision as another privatisation done behind closed doors.

“Privatisation means reduced accountability for the public,” Ms Sheehy told councillors.

Listing a raft of services that have been privatised or partially privatised over the last decade, including seniors, youth, children, waste and the women’s refuge, she said the community was missing out.

“I used to use the youth services when I was growing up, but my children don’t have this same opportunity,” she said while calling on the council to hold a public consultation on its outsourcing.

The city’s infrastructure director Graham Tattersall denied there was any link between the decision and the industrial dispute.

“The city has for a number of years used service contractors for the majority of its graffiti removal, painting and carpentry works,” Mr Tattersall said.

“A recent service review concluded that it was inefficient to continue to operate with the small inhouse team.

“The current contractors provide stability and good value.” Mr Tattersall said affected staff were involved throughout the review, which started mid-December.

by STEVE GRANT

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